Peonies and Baby Lettuce

Continuing my new series called Farmer's Market Fridays, I would like to share my latest aquisitions from the Farmer's Market. My purchases were actually made last Saturday morning during my visit to the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds.

My absolute favorite thing to pick up at the Farmer's Market are fresh, locally grown flowers. The peonies are in bloom here in the South and they are stunning and incredibly fragrant. The above photo is from my guest bedroom. I love to have fresh flowers by the bedside when visitors stay over. My favorite vase is my antique footed goblet from a wine festival in France. It says "Souvenir de la Fete".

I love the combination of the pink peonies against the blue walls in my dining room with the corner of the vintage gray frame. I collect old frames and this one is my favorite.

The baby lettuce, squash, cucumbers and onions I purchased at the Farmer's Market are arranged on my Pure Butter platter at my kitchen sink.  I received it as a gift from my sister many, many years ago and it's where I keep my fresh fruits and vegetables on my kitchen counter. My sister discovered the original mold for the Pure Butter Platter at the Leed's Pottery Factory on a buying trip to England in the 1990's and had these reproduced for the American Market. There are now many reproductions and importers but she was the original. I love my platter because it reminds me of her and her artistic vision.

This stall was so artfully arranged. I have never really liked radishes. They are one of the vegetables that arrive in the early weeks of the markets. I purchased a bag of this fresh, baby lettuce.

My favorite flower vendor at the farmer's market always has the best seasonal flowers. My peonies at her stall before I brought them home.

A bucket of fresh wildflowers at her stall.

I cook with herbs every day and look forward to this time of year when they start to flourish again.

The North Carolina strawberries are also in season. I love to make a salad with baby lettuce, fresh strawberries, feta cheese, purple onion and toasted pecans.

I saved these recipes from an article that appeared in Tradional Home . Magazine contributor Stephen Exel attended a cooking class in Paris taught by cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis of the On Rue Tatin cooking school. I plan to make the Hazelnut Vinaigrette with the recipe from the article {below} for my fresh baby lettuce salad.

Garden Greens with Hazelnut Vinaigrette

Susan recommends Jean LeBlanc hazelnut oil, a French oil cold pressed with a stone mill (8 ounces, $26, from Look for edible flowers at your local farmers market or with the fresh herbs at your grocery store.

8 cups mixed greens and herbs such as arugula, radicchio, sorrel, and Swiss chard
1 shallot, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon best-quality red wine vinegar
Fine sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1/4 cup hazelnut oil
Edible flower blossoms for garnish

Rinse greens; dry. Place shallot in large bowl. Add vinegar; whisk in salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in oil until mixture is emulsified. Add greens and herbs; toss until combined. Taste for seasoning. Top with blossoms.

I didn't buy the radishes but if I did I would have made this recipe for:

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